Quotations by Le Guin, Ursula K.


Sure it’s simple, writing for kids. Just as simple as bringing them up. All you do is take all the sex out, and use little short words, and little dumb ideas, and don’t be too scary and be sure there’s a happy ending. Right? Nothing to it. Write down. Right on. If you do all that you might even write Jonathan Livingstone Seagull and make twenty million dollars and have every adult in America reading your book.

But you won’t have every kid in America reading your book. They will look at it, with their clear, cold, beady little eyes, and they will put it down, and they will go away. Kids will devour vast amounts of garbage (and it is good for them) but they are not like adults; they have not yet learned to eat plastic.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
“Dreams Must Explain Themselves” (1973)
Added on 19-Oct-07 | Last updated 20-Jun-16
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The oldest argument against SF is both the shallowest and the profoundest: the assertion that SF, like all fantasy, is escapist. […] If it’s worth answering, the best answer is given by Tolkien, author, critic, and scholar. Yes, he said, fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? The moneylenders, the know-nothings, the authoritarians have us all in prison; if we value the freedom of the mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
“Escape Routes,” Galaxy (Dec 1974)

Reprinted in The Language of the Night (1979).

Though Le Guin makes it clear it's a paraphrase, the main body of this passage is often misrepresented as an actual quotation from J. R. R. Tolkien (and with an exclamation point on the final sentence). It was, instead, inspired by Tolkien's comments on escapism in "On Fairy-Stories" (1939).

More discussion on this quotation: Not a Tolkien quote: "Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory" - thetolkienist.com
Added on 13-Dec-21 | Last updated 13-Dec-21
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The problem of drugs, of divorce, of race prejudice, of unmarried pregnancy, and so on — as if evil were a problem, something that an be solved, that has an answer, like a problem in fifth grade arithmetic. If you want the answer, you just look in the back of the book. That is escapism, that posing evil as a “problem,” instead of what it is: all the pain and suffering and waste and loss and injustice we will meet our loves long, and must face and cope with over and over and over, and admit, and live with, in order to live human lives at all.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
“The Child and the Shadow,” Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress (Apr 1975)
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On the difficulty of "realistic fiction" for children to teach morality. First delivered as a speech; later reprinted in The Language of the Night (1979).
Added on 3-Jan-22 | Last updated 3-Jan-22
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You must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
A Wizard of Earthsea, ch. 3 (1968)
Added on 6-Apr-17 | Last updated 6-Apr-17
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Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread; re-made all the time, made new.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
The Lathe of Heaven
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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The vaster the power gained, the vaster the appetite for more.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
The Lathe of Heaven, ch. 9 (1971)
Added on 30-Apr-12 | Last updated 30-Apr-12
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It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
The Left Hand of Darkness, ch. 15 (1969)
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More info: It Is Good To Have an End To Journey Towards; But It Is the Journey That Matters, in the End – Quote Investigator.
Added on 23-Aug-21 | Last updated 23-Aug-21
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When action grows unprofitable, gather information; when information grows unprofitable, sleep.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929) American writer
The Left Hand of Darkness, ch. 3 (1969)
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Added on 12-Apr-17 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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